The holiday season, Christmas in particular, can be one of the most expensive times of the year for people. According to Bank of Montreal, Canadians are expected to spend $1610 this holiday season which is up approximately 15% from $1397 in 2011. These numbers may sound extremely high, but the numbers actually consist of 4 different categories: Gifts, Trips, Entertaining and Other. Since most people are really bad when it comes to saving money, often people are putting themselves into debt to have an enjoyable holiday season. Instead of paying cash, many of these purchases wind up on credit card statements in the New Year.

Cheap Christmas GiftsTo help minimize the blow of your January credit card statement, I have written a guide to show ways you can save money on while having a cheap, enjoyable holiday season.

If you don’t celebrate Christmas simply substitute the word “Christmas” in this article with the holiday of your choosing (ie. Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanza, etc.).

Cheap Christmas Present Ideas

Clothing – When it comes to clothes, most people look at the brand to figure out how much it is worth. To find good brands cheaper you can look online (ebay/kijiji – watch out for fakes!!), factory outlets (as mentioned above) and even stores like Winners that focuses on name brands for less.

House & Home – If you are buying for someone that doesn’t still live with their parents, chances are they will like nice things for around their home. If they like to cook, buy them something for their kitchen or dining room. There are so many options that don’t have to cost a lot of money. For appliances I suggest looking for warehouse sales or buying online at sites like Amazon. When I furnished my condo I found Amazon had the best prices. For other house and home gifts try Homesense, Winners and Walmart.

Alcohol – Booze is a great gift and is a good way to get away with spending very little on something most people will love. For example, a good bottle of wine can be found without a problem in the $20 range.

Pet Supplies – If you are buying something for a dog or cat lover then chances are they will love anything that they can give to their pet. I recently got my first puppy and have found Homesense and Winners to have the best prices but you canalso try Walmart, Pet Valu & Petsmart.

Tickets – Tickets to an event are a great present! For example, at many major sporting events you can find a pair of tickets for under $30!

Toys – Christmas is all about the kids. Here are some places where you can find cheap toys in Toronto specifically but many of these apply to other cities in Canada: Toys R Us, Walmart, Honest Ed’s, Winners,, eBay, Toys Toys Toys, The Dollar Store and many online retailers offer toys at a discount price.

Sexy Gifts – Lingerie and other sexy gifts can be very inexpensive and a great way to warm up during the holiday season!

Mixed CDs – Not just great for teenagers, a mix CD can be an excellent gift for someone! Taking the time to make a CD specifically for a person shows that you really care about them.

Gift Certificates – Though a gift certificate holds a specific value, many people overlook this and use these as a way to buy something that they wouldn’t normally buy themselves. You can get gift certificates for just about anywhere nowadays, including restaurants, stores, the LCBO, gyms and many more!

Group Buy Certificates (ie. something purchased through Groupon, Living Social, etc.)– Giving someone a group buy is a great way to get them an expensive gift at a reduced price. Unfortunately they can have many downsides which you should consider before giving one. Here are the main things I would consider when giving someone a group buy:
–    Group Buy’s typically expire. Make sure the expiry date gives the gift receiver plenty of time to use it.
–    They can make you look cheap. Just because the deal is $5 for $200 worth of stuff does not make the gift worth $200. It is still just a $5 gift.
–    Retailers go under. Only give group buy deals for companies that you are sure will be around before the expiry date.
–    Post expiration rules. Several group buy companies like Groupon have rules that say their coupons will still be worth what you paid for them after they expire, others do not! Make sure you are giving someone a gift that holds some value after the expiry date.

Personal Coupon Booklet – A personal coupon booklet is a booklet of coupons you design for the gift receiver that they can redeem whenever they want. These typically work best with a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife. Whether it be cooking them dinner, doing house chores or some kind of sexual favour, this can be a fun gift that won’t cost you very much money at all!

Here are some more specific cheap Christmas present Ideas:
–    Coffee & mug / selection of interesting teas (I’m currently hooked on David’s teas)
–    Scrapbook / photo album of memories
–    Hat, mittens or scarf
–    Homemade baked treats
–    Nice olive oil, spread, jams or other high end treats
–    Wallet or purse
–    Candles (Christmas gift for her)
–    A nice serving dish
–    Board games
–    Movie passes
–    Bubble bath, oils or nice soaps (Christmas gift for him or her)
–    Picture frame (Christmas gift for her)
–    Vase filled with candies
–    Book – Cooking, Travel, Fiction / Non-fiction, Autobiography, etc.
–    Make-up (Christmas gift for her)
–    Tie (Christmas gift for him)
–    Tools (Christmas gift for him)
–    Nice towels
–    A nice refillable water bottle (save the environment at the same time!)
–    Socks & underwear
–    Shaving kit or accessories
–    Chocolate (Christmas gift for him or her)
–    Cell phone accessories

Where To Buy Cheap Christmas Gifts

Getting Christmas gifts for cheap requires a bit of planning and some creativity. If the person you are buying for is very particular about what they want and it is a product that never goes on sale you won’t really be able to save anything. If they are less particular and just have a favourite brand or general idea of what they want then you will have a lot more flexibility. Here are some ways to find cheap gifts that will look like you spent a lot more than you did:

Factory Outlets – Outlets are one of the best ways to save a ton of money. The best way to maximize your spending is to cross the border and shop in the USA. My favourite place to shop is Grove City, Pennsylvania because they have a huge selection and there are no state taxes on clothing. Most of the outlets are name brands that everyone knows and loves which means you can find awesome presents at a fraction of the cost you will find them for anywhere in Canada. The best time to maximize your savings is on Black Friday (the weekend of American Thanksgiving), but this requires a lot of planning. If you can’t afford to go for several ideas you can even drive to the nearest border city and do your shopping there. Claim everything at customs as the duties are not really that much when you consider the savings!

Warehouse Sales – During the holiday season is typically when many big companies run their warehouse sales. Some of the most popular warehouse sales are the William Ashley sale and the Umbra Sale but there are MANY more! There are lots of good deals to be found at these sales to get a great gift for less!

Cheap Christmas Decorations

The best time to buy cheap Christmas decorations such as lights and wrapping paper is actually right after Christmas. Since most people are already maxed out after Christmas they don’t take advantage of deals. If you don’t like to plan that far in advance you can find cheap wrapping paper and lights at Walmart and the Dollar Store.

The best place to find a cheap Christmas tree is usually at your local church (typically something organized by the boy scouts), a grocery store or by driving a bit out of the city to the suburbs (prices downtown are usually more expensive). If you really want to have the full Christmas experience you can even cut down your own tree!

Cheap Christmas Vacations

A lot of people love to get away during the holidays. Finding a cheap Christmas vacation is the same process as finding a cheap vacation at any other time of the year. Check out my cheap travel tips for Canadians blog post for tips on how to book cheap holiday travel.

Santa Plane